Tuesday, July 21 – Journalism and Media are the focus of Tour Day Two as Students Meet with NBC News and The New York Times

Today’s Tour conversations covered all things news media and journalism. Our first meeting was with Senior Director at NBC News Brett Holey, Anchor Lester Holt, and Senior Vice President of NBC and MSNBC Rashida Jones. Brett, who directs breaking news, prime time and political programming and oversees directors, production and projects for network news, has been involved with the Tour since its origin in 2014. He spoke with the group about the importance of being an active consumer of media and introduced our students to his colleagues Lester and Rashida. 

We were thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with news anchor Lester Holt. He talked about the importance of leadership and the value of diversity in the newsroom, and answered questions about Justice For All, his series on criminal justice reform, and moderating a presidential debate in 2016, among other things. Following our conversation with Lester, Rashida Jones spoke to our Tour students about her work as executive producer of breaking news and major events for NBC News and MSNBC and manager of MSNBC’s daytime programming. She reflected on how discipline and public service have been guiding principles for her career, and encouraged students to do what they’re passionate about. 

Our second meeting of the day was with Pulitzer prize winners from The New York Times Kathleen Kingsbury and Brent Staples. Kathleen is the Acting Editorial Page Editor at The Times. Brent is an editorial writer and has been member of the New York Times Editorial Board since 1990. 

Kathleen shared about how the publication operates, the difference between the news and opinion sections, and her notable work on labor issues. The students asked about her perspectives on a variety of topics, ranging from gun safety to reopening schools during the pandemic. The group also touched on how The Times decides which opinion pieces get published.

During our time with Brent, the group discussed some of his most notable works such as Just Walk on By: Black Men and Public Space, and asked questions about his decades of experience writing on race, cultural issues, and education. We’re grateful to Brent and Katie for sharing their time and insights with us! 

Our students finished the day with lots of advice and information to reflect on and are looking forward to tomorrow’s meetings with Former Massachusetts Governor Daval Patrick and Nisha Agarwal of the International Refugee Assistance Project.

Monday, July 20 – Students kick off Tour meetings with Aviva Rosman of BallotReady & The Atlantic’s Scott Stossel

Our Citizenship Tour students had their first full day of conversations today, speaking with BallotReady co-founder and COO Aviva Rosman and National Editor at The Atlantic Scott Stossel.

BallotReady makes it easy for voters to make informed choices on the entire ballot by providing background information on candidates and referenda and comparing candidates’ stances on important issues. Before starting BallotReady, Aviva was a Teach for America corps member, worked in campaigns, and ran for local office herself. Aviva spoke to our students about BallotReady’s commitment to “making sure democracy works the way it’s supposed to.” Our Tour students asked Aviva questions about voter suppression and turnout, the influence of social media on elections, and how to become an informed first-time voter. “Don’t let your voice be silenced,” Aviva told the group.

Following the talk with Aviva, students spoke with Scott Stossel, National Editor at The Atlantic and author. A squash player himself, Scott first became acquainted with our network while living in Boston during the early days of SquashBusters. Scott spoke about his years of experience as a writer and editor at The Atlantic, The American Prospect, and his two books Sarge: The Life and Times of Sargent Shriver and My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. When reflecting on his journalism career, Scott spoke of the importance of having a “set of commonly understood facts.” He also touched on the challenges journalists and publications currently face when deciding what viewpoints to publish. 

Friday, July 17 – Students prepare for next week’s sessions and meet with SEA Executive Director Tim Wyant

Over the past three days, our Tour participants have been busy getting acquainted with each other, preparing for next week’s meetings, and discussing the topics they are most passionate about. Climate change, healthcare, and immigration are just some of the issues that are on the minds of our students. To learn about what a few of our Tour participants are looking forward to and eager to discuss with our speakers, check out the reflections below.

In addition to preparing for next week, the group spent some time talking with SEA’s Executive Director Tim Wyant today. Tim reflected on his experience as the first Executive Director of CitySquash and his role leading SEA, but the bulk of the conversation was led by our students. The group asked questions about future goals for SEA, how member programs will continue to operate during the pandemic, and the importance of having more leaders and staff members of color working in the SEA network.”Through listening to the discussion, I realized how many passionate peers I was gathered with and how lucky I was to hear their well thought questions,” says San Diego student Abigail. “Additionally, I learned how much thought the leaders of SEA had put into the program I was luckily a part of. Through the entire questioning with Mr. Wyant, I saw how transparent he was about the history and actions of SEA.”

We can’t wait for more great conversations next week with our inquisitive and thoughtful group of students!

Student Reflections

Abigail – Access Youth Academy
Before joining the Tour, I was so moved by the opportunities that it provided. I knew through the experience that I would get to ask the strong people in power all of the pressing questions that fill my brain. Also, being the curious person that I am, I saw the Tour as an outlet where I could listen, interact, and learn so much from my peers, staff, and speakers. Overall, I am not looking forward to one thing, person, or talk, I am looking forward to learning more about every person’s perspective, history, and experience. I think those facts are what shape a person and I am ready to challenge the speakers with deep questions.

Considering the current situation in the world with these unprecedented times of the COVID-19 outbreak and the recent spark of the Black Lives Matter movement, I believe that this tour will be different from the rest because these issues are in all of our minds. Personally, as a person of color I know that the environment that I am surrounded by has left me with unanswered questions, strong opinions, and a search for answers. In that search, I know that I need to be open minded and hear everyone through. I am looking forward to hearing from our speakers, and asking if they are in support of this civil rights movement and why. The ideas of these very powerful people in power is what helps define the nation, so I see it as so rewarding to get to soon hear from those individuals.

Julissa – Capitol Squash
I have always been passionate about advocating for an equitable healthcare system that does not neglect and negatively affect women and people of color. With the COVID-19 pandemic disproportionately affecting communities of color, specifically the Black and Indigenous communities, I have become even more drawn to this topic.

By attending this year’s Citizenship Tour, I see myself learning new ways to raise awareness and address this issue that I am so passionate about. Furthermore, I hope that I am able to influence the people I meet on tour, to realize the gravity of the issue and use their huge platform to advocate for a fairer healthcare system.

Tyan – MetroSquash

7th Annual Citizenship Tour Goes Virtual

From July 20-24, 23 high school and college students will take part in SEA’s 7th Annual (and first-ever virtual!) Citizenship Tour. These civically-minded students will spend the week meeting and speaking with leaders in government, policy, nonprofits, journalism, and more. Our high school participants hail from 12 SEA member programs across the country. This week, our students have begun gathering to prepare for their meetings and to get to know one another. See below to “meet” a few of our Tour participants and who they’ll be talking with next week!

Access Youth Academy
San Diego, CA

Issue you are passionate about: Climate change has proven to be a political, environmental, and social issue in the United States, and it is crucial that politicians and citizens across the nation understand the current conundrum. As a nation, we have failed to take appropriate action and just this past year the carbon emissions in the world were the highest in all of human history! That fact is crazy, and should have been enough to spark change but it hasn’t. I am excited to share my ideas with the members of the Tour and discuss pressing topics as such.

One word that describes you: Passionate. I love everything I do and usually spend lots of time trying to understand and contribute in the best way possible.

Santa Barbara School of Squash
Santa Barbara, CA

Issue you are passionate about: An issue that I’m passionate about is immigration but specifically DACA. This topic is important to me because I have family members that are here because of DACA.

One word that describes you: Motivated


Urban Squash Cleveland
Cleveland, OH

Issue you are passionate about: The mortality rates of Black women during childbirth and why they are so high compared to other races of women.

One word that describes you: Ambitious


Santa Barbara School of Squash
Santa Barbara, CA

Issue you are passionate about: The juvenile prison system reinforces criminal behavior rather than rehabilitating incarcerated children by not protecting them in the cells from other adults, punishing them ever more than others, and not giving them the help they deserve trying to become a better person. Not only has this opened my eyes to the juveniles being put in prison but to the percentage of people in prison are African Americans.

One word that describes you: Considerate

2020 Tour Speakers

Nisha Agarwal
Deputy Executive Director, International Refugee Assistance Project

Brett Holey
Senior Director, NBC News

Lester Holt
Anchor, NBC News

Rashida Jones
Senior Vice President, NBC News and MSNBC

Kathleen Kingsbury
Acting Editorial Page Editor, The New York Times

Franklin Leonard
Founder of The Black List

Alejandro Mayorkas
Former Deputy Secretary, Department of Homeland Security

Wes Moore
CEO, Robin Hood

Deval Patrick
Former Massachusetts Governor

Aviva Rosman
Co-Founder and COO, BallotReady

Brent Staples
Editorial Writer, The New York Times

Admiral James Stavridis
Former Supreme Allied Commander, NATO

Scott Stossel
National Editor, The Atlantic

Jennifer Wynn
Director of Education, Obama Foundation

2020 Tour Participants
Abigail – Access Youth Academy
Melisa – Santa Barbara School of Squash
Reanna – SquashBusters Boston
Tyan – MetroSquash
Kyla – SquashSmarts
Alana – Racquet Up Detroit
Daniela – Santa Barbara School of Squash
Tahneja – Urban Squash Cleveland
Anthony – SquashSmarts
Makayla – SquashDrive
Sanaa – SquashWise
Ivett – Santa Barbara School of Squash
Julissa – Capitol Squash
Vivian – Access Youth Academy
Mariya – CitySquash
Adriana – Capitol Squash
Johanna – Squash Haven
Jayden – Squash Haven
Jayrene – Squash Haven
Yuliana – SquashBusters Lawrence

Wednesday, July 17: The 6th Citizenship Tour Comes to an End

This morning, we ended the tour with a quick visit to the White House, where students explored the historical building. Then, we said our goodbyes and parted ways, traveling home to as close as Baltimore and as far as Berkeley, CA. It was evident from the goodbyes that students formed real friendships on this special trip. It’s difficult to summarize how much this tour has meant to each of us. For a small glimpse, we’ve included Tour Counselor Zoe Russell’s moving speech from last night’s Squash on Fire reception.

Hello everyone, and good evening! It has been an honor to act as a tour counselor this past week, and it is an honor to speak for you all this evening. 

Without a doubt, I would have loved to participate in the Citizenship Tour as a student. With a passion for creating change and an interest in law, it would have been an incomparable experience to have met even one of the amazing people that the students have had the chance to meet in the last few days, including U.S. District Judge Paul Engelmayer, top-tier NBC journalist Lester Holt, power couple Tanya and Alejandro Mayorkas, who founded the Fair Housing Institute of LA and was the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Homeland Security under President Obama, respectively, and U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Justin Muzinich.  Alas, the first Citizenship Tour did not occur until 2014, a full year after I had already graduated from SquashBusters in Boston, and matriculated to Bucknell University as a Posse Scholar. And so, with an envious heart, I lived vicariously through the blog posts and personal stories of friends about this amazing program. I was not just jealous of the fact that they were meeting superstars like John Lewis or current presidential candidate Cory Booker, I lamented the opportunity to engage with those who had pursued and were excelling in the exact fields I saw my future in. Many of you are aware of the various gaps in our society: the opportunity gap, the education gap, etc. And while those gaps are far smaller than in the past, they are still very present, and pose a threat to the success of many communities. 

A little over a year ago, I took a weekend off from my job as a paralegal in Atlanta and visited my family at home in Boston. Having moved to Atlanta right after graduating college, with no family and friends, I was lonely, stressed at work, and in the middle of studying for my LSATs, the most difficult exam I had encountered thus far in my life. I deeply needed some perspective, so my mother told me a story I’d never heard before. I had known that she was the first in her family to attend college, not only completing a degree at the prestigious Wellesley College, but also completing a Master’s degree afterward. The new detail she shared with me that night, was that she’d also gotten into Trinity College on a full scholarship, but my great-grandmother, a Caribbean-born immigrant who raised my mom and her siblings, told her she shouldn’t go. “Your great-grandmother didn’t really understand how the education system worked,” my mother said, “she didn’t realize how much of a difference the scholarship made.” Had no idea that it covered important things like housing, meal plans, and travel. Had no idea that, in comparison to Wellesley, which didn’t give as much money, Trinity was the obvious choice. Neither did my mother. All they had to go off of, was that they knew how to get to Wellesley, and didn’t know how to get to Trinity, so that’s where my mother went. My mother, who has led a career dedicated to public service, is still paying off loans today because information as simple as how to differentiate loans from scholarships, and a bus route, were not available to her family at the time. One of her greatest accomplishments, she told me, was ensuring I had access to all the information I needed for success. That included finding and enrolling me in incredible programs such as SquashBusters, where I received SAT support, was taken on college tours, and given a financial aid coach. The night she shared this with me, she also made a point to tell me how extremely proud she was of all I had achieved thus far, and how happy it made her to see me living my long-time dream of applying to law school. But I knew in that moment that it was because of all she went through, and the mistakes she made, that I am able to navigate the education system so well.

Even though my mother’s college decisions happened several decades ago, many black, brown, immigrant, and low-income students across the United States are in the same position today, as they apply to college and pursue professional careers. Who do they talk to that can help them make informed life decisions when their families have never encountered them? The Citizenship Tour, with intentional opportunities to engage and network with powerful individuals at the forefront of their fields, is a program helping to address this issue, and close this opportunity gap. During one of our nightly meetings this week, students were asked how they would describe themselves and the rest of their peers on the Citizenship Tour. “Curious, intellectual, and full of potential, whether they realize it or not,” said Jocelyn, a recent graduate from Squash Haven in Connecticut who will be attending Dickinson College in the fall. “[We’re all] leaders in [our] own way.” In agreement, Jocelyn’s Squash Haven peer, Aboubacar, added: “We want to change the world, but we don’t know how.” When asked what she was passionate about, Naima, a rising senior from SquashDrive in Oakland, California responded that she wanted to help and encourage other first generation students like herself on their path to college.  From the moment you meet them, it is clear not only that our students are extraordinary, but also that they are extremely self-aware. They are well-versed in matters of equity, justice, service, and civic engagement. Their passion, leadership, and drive is unmistakable. They know they are reaching for greatness, and are searching for support on their journey, but it is a support many of their families and communities cannot provide. They know that if they can find a way to reach their goals, they will be resources, mentors, and models for the following generation. 

The Citizenship Tour was created in aid of this pursuit, and even now, hours before our 6th tour ends, we can see the difference. When asked to describe this week has meant for them, Keon, a SquashWise senior from Baltimore responded: “Eye-opening. Moving forward, […] I aspire to create non-profit programs that will make a positive impact, whether it’s creating a homeless shelter or establishing a school dedicated to helping marginalized communities of color.” Lexa, a student from Access Youth Academy based in San Diego, stated: “Since now I know the importance of being a citizen, and I am very passionate about immigration reform, one of my plans is to help [show] undocumented immigrants how much they impact our nation and how their citizenship would make the U.S. a better place.”  How incredible are those responses?! Can we get a hand for that? If you aren’t inspired by the young people in this room, I don’t know what to tell you. We are watching generational education and information gaps close right in front of us. This is the powerful, important work that the Squash and Education Alliance, with all of its partner programs, is doing for communities across the world. From Colombia to South Africa, Chicago to Charleston, we are working hard to make the future our students rightfully deserve accessible. They experienced dramatic change in one week; with the support of SEA behind them, imagine what these young people will bring to the table in five, ten, and thirty years. They’re going to change the world. And they’re starting right now.

I would like to thank all of you, personally, for your support. Whatever your role– board member, donor, volunteer, family, or friend, you are essential to this process of opening doors for the world’s future leaders. As for me, I think it’s safe to say I made the most of a bad situation. I may have missed out on the Citizenship Tour in high school, but I’m getting paid to be here now! I’d say it worked out for the best. Even as I look forward to attending Harvard Law School in the fall, this week is a reminder of how I came to be here: someone acknowledged my potential, identified my opportunity gap, and worked to bridge the divide between potential and reality.


Tuesday, July 16 – Capitol Hill and Celebrations at Squash on Fire


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Tuesday was stacked with meetings on Capitol Hill! We started things off on the House Floor with a Democratic Congressman from Connecticut, Jim Himes. Congressman Himes was charismatic and shared his thoughts on important issues like race relations as well as his perspective on the U.S. government. He noted that he likes the House of Representatives because “It’s the purest form of democracy.” Following our chat with Congressman Himes, we toured the historic Capitol Building. 

After our tour, we headed outside for a chat with fellow Connecticut leader, Democratic Senator Richard Blumenthal. While overlooking the Capitol steps, Senator Blumenthal spoke with our group about his work on the judiciary committee, among other things. He noted one challenge of his work: “Are you going to think about what’s good locally, or what’s good for the nation?” “Hopefully the two coincide,” he stated.

Next we headed to the office of Republican South Carolina Senator Tim Scott. Senator Scott drew on personal experiences when answering our students’ questions, and cautioned about the dangers of partisanship. He encouraged our students to “understand and appreciate the nuances of debate” and raised the important question, “How do we help people make better decisions about their lives?”

After exploring Capitol Hill, we headed back to our hotel to prepare for our meeting with Admiral James Stavridis and our Tour Reception at Squash on Fire. Admiral Stavridis, former Supreme Allied Commander Of NATO (and Navy squash player), spoke to our group about leadership. “No one of us is as smart as all of us together,” shared the Admiral. 

Along with the Admiral, nearly 100 friends and supporters of SEA came to Squash on Fire to celebrate the Tour. SEA Alumna and Citizenship Tour Counselor Zoe Russell gave some compelling remarks, we mingled with the Tour planning committee, and watched squash pros Alister Walker and Karan Malik play each other in an exhibition match. 

After a long, eventful evening, we spent time reflecting as a group and prepared for our very last day on the tour.

Tour Counselor Takeover! Please see what Stacy Maceda, CitySquash alum and recent graduate of Hobart William Smith, had to say about our Tuesday adventures and the tour in general below:

“This year I decided to return to the Citizenship Tour as a counselor. I took part in the inaugural year of the Citizenship Tour, and I have seen it continuously progress with bright students always prepared to engage in conversation with high profiled individuals. This year I was more than surprised by the intelligent group of students that took part of the tour this year. To conclude what was already an amazing week we met with individuals like Congressmen Jim Himes, Senator Richard Blumenthal, Senator Tim Scott, and Admiral Jim Stavridis.

The students with no doubt were prepared for the day full of events and had done extensive research on these individuals who have so much power in the decisions that impact our students lives. A personal highlight was being able to enter the House Chamber where Congressman Jim Himes gave us a historical overview of a space where laws are debated and passed. To me it was significant because we were able to occupy a space that gives significance to the current polarized state of our nation.

To finish off the night, we went to the Squash on Fire courts to hold the fundraiser reception for the Citizenship Tour. To start off the night we had alumnae Zoey Russell give a speech that highlighted the importance of the tour and how she saw the students impacted by this week’s meetings with high profiled individuals. Then we had Admiral Jim Stavridis give a speech on the importance of leadership to make the changes that we want to see. As students reflected on the tour later that night at our evening meeting, we had some speak on the amazing experiences they had and the friendships they would walk away with. With tears in their eyes and final goodbyes students were left impacted with the amazing experiences they were able to have. Thank you to our amazing staff, committee members and SEA network. Without your support this week would not have been as successful as it was!”


Monday, July 15 – The DC Tour Continues

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My name is Elizangi Araujo and I am one of the many bright and amazing students who participated in the Citizenship Tour of 2019! I, along with 17 other students from 10 different programs, got the chance to meet with so many people during this special week. In New York, we had the opportunity to get a tour at NBC Studios with Brett Holey, and when we got to D.C, we had the honor to meet the Mayorkas family at their home. However, I’m here to talk about what happened on our busy Monday.

Upon having to wake up way earlier than we usually did when we were in New York, one of our first meetings was with Danielle Conley, a partner at WilmerHale firm company. As a young minority woman, I find myself attaching to other minority women. The reason seems to be because a lot of their values align with mine. Danielle, along with giving some of our kids advice about paths to pursue if they were interested in law, talked to us about how she got started in her career. She told us that we don’t necessarily have to be in law or the justice system to talk about what you are passionate about or to do what’s right. Right after our meeting with Danielle, we met with Lori Handrahan, who is a humanitarian worker. She talked about how she views a lot of men in power and how the child trafficking issue is a huge issue that is under represented. In the afternoon, we met with Justin Muzinich who is the current Deputy Secretary of the US Treasury (so you know, no big deal or anything). We ended the night with some squash and pizza at George Washington University courts with Anderson, the GW squash coach, who was generous enough to welcome our whole team. 

Citizenship Tour has given a ton of kids from a ton of cities so many opportunities to be the amazing people we all are. When I first heard that I was accepted for the Citizenship Tour, I was ecstatic and a little nervous as I realized I was going to be meeting with a whole bunch of important people. But after the first couple of meetings, I realized that mostly everyone had a similar story and wherever they are now is because of all the hard work they’ve done in their life. Hearing all the questions my peers had to ask proved to me that teenagers are the new generation and we are the ones that hold a lot of power. A lot of people disrespect teenagers or give us a bad reputation because of our age or our habits. They think we don’t have a brain on our own or we aren’t aware of the issues around us. I always knew there were teens who were just like me, who cared about their community and political issues and I was able to see that with the other 17 teenagers who I am so grateful to be on this journey with. I’m excited for the next group of teens who get accepted to Citizenship Tour next year, and to all the teens, staff and guest speakers I met this year, I just want to give the biggest thank you ever. This is truly a moment of my life I will never ever forget.


Sunday, July 14 – Museums and New Friends

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Student Takeover! See what Keon Rosado, SquashWise Class of 2020, has to say about our morning:

“Today our group went on an adventure to the National Museum of African American history and culture. Prior to the Citizenship Tour, I attended the museum about 3 times. However, every time I attend, I’m blown away. Every time I go, I see an exhibit I haven’t seen before. I learn new hardships pertaining to what Black people had and currently still endure within the society of America.

After visiting the museum, we were given the chance to first take a marvelous group photo in front of the museum. Looking upon the exterior of the museum, it resembled a crown. To me, the resemblance of the crown symbolizes the pulse of what it means to be Black in America. After taking the group photo, we had the opportunity to split up in groups to tour various Smithsonian Museum.”

After a quick prep meeting and a break back at the hotel, we were lucky enough to be invited to the home of former Deputy Secretary of the US Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro and Tanya Mayorkas. We enjoyed delicious food and Georgetown Cupcakes, in addition to some amazing stories and conversation with both Alejandro and Tanya. We were truly blown away by their generosity.

Daniel Islam, SquashSmarts class of 2020, shared the following: “Going to the Mayorkas’s was like being right at home. They were welcoming, there was no pressure, and they made a comfortable atmosphere for us to ask questions.”

Lexa Lara, Access Youth Academy class of 2021, shared, “I really like them as people; they were so nice and inviting. They’re just good people and I felt so comfortable in their place.”

Tour Counselor and CitySquash Alum Stacy Maceda added, “Mr. Mayorkas is a really good story teller” and everybody chimed in to agree.

We ended the day filled with energy and gratitude for their kindness.

Saturday, July 13 – SEA Heads to DC

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Today was mostly a day of travel, as we embarked on our trip to Washington, D.C.! We ate lunch on the road and arrived to our hotel around 4:30. Once we were settled, we went on a walking tour of the National Mall monuments, including the Washington Monument, Lincoln Memorial and reflecting pool. We enjoyed our student meeting at the Lincoln Memorial where we had an opportunity to reflect on the day and the trip so far. Please enjoy the reflections from two of our students who volunteered to share below:

Jocelyn, Squash Haven class of 2019: “The first meeting that comes to mind [as one that stands out the most] was the one where we we met Audrey Strauss and Tom McKay. I’m very interested and passionate about law and being able to meet them and learn about their accomplishments gave me insight into who I can become and what I can do.”

“This trip has encouraged me to be enlightened and empowered. Meeting people with successful careers, hearing about their accomplishments, and getting them to ask thoughtful questions has let me see that change is tangible.”

“The people around me are curious, intellectual and full of inner potential whether they realize it or not. They are a passionate group which encompasses different leaders who lead in their own way.”

Elizangi, SquashBusters class of 2020, shares the following about the trip so far: “The NBC tour was so cool. I never really thought about the film/TV industry in that manner, but after that tour, it seems like something that would be up my alley.”

“Today I feel overwhelmed and underwhelmed at the same time. We’ve been meeting with very important people and I thought that I would feel nervous around them, but hearing some of their stories made me remember that they had to get a start somewhere. They were/are normal people just like us”

“[I am surrounded by] a bunch of teens who’ve realized they have a voice and through this, we’re able to use it and tell people who are in power what we think needs to be done/get done and get them to understand that we are important too and our opinions matter.”

Be sure to check out SEA’s Instagram @squashandeducation to see our video reflections as well!

Friday, July 12 – CT ‘19 Takes on Journalism

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Today was day three of the tour, which began with a tour of NBC studios by Director and generous SEA supporter Brett Holey. Holey took us on a very special VIP version of the tour which excited both our students and our pages. Destiny, SquashBusters class of 2020, especially enjoyed the peek Mr. Holey gave us into the control rooms – “we never get to see the other side of the entertainment industry.” We were lucky enough to end with a bonus meeting with Lester Holt, who shared stories with us about how he got started as a reporter. He had very valuable advice for our students about maintaining intelligent debate and breaking into the news industry.

After splitting up into our small groups for lunch, we were lucky enough to tour the New York Times and engage with an all-star panel of journalists: Kathleen Kingsbury, Meeta Agrawal, Brent Staples, and Gina, a new journalist, who works in editorial for the Opinions section. The journalists spoke to us about how they remain fair, while still maintaining their humanity. Ms. Kingsbury shared, “Every journalist brings their own human emotions to [their work.]” Mr. Staples shared his experiences working as one of very few Black men in editorial work at the New York Times, stating that through his writing and editing he is “explaining the country to itself.” He also shared that “the only education is history; everything else is just training.” Finally, Ms. Agrawal shared the power an editor can have in changing the way stories are told: “My lens makes a difference. Everything you read in the paper is a choice.”

In the early evening, we toured the 9/11 Memorial and Museum. Elizangi, SquashBusters class of 2020, shared the following: “The museum allowed us to experience 9/11 in a different way. I’ve only heard about it through my family and in school, but seeing the artifacts and listening to the voices of the people of their last call was overwhelming. But it’s such an important moment in a history and it’s a good thing that we’re able to see it.” 

We ended the day with a group dinner and some student exploration of NYC before meeting back at the hotel to prep for our DC trip.